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Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

swb Re:Has the trend away from blunt force led to this (1001 comments)

I think the flashlight-as-impact-weapon was just a brief stopover on the trip away from using more traditional blunt force weapons. Take away a baton and suddenly a 6 D-cell mag light is the new baton, unfortunately with characteristics more of a lead-filled blackjack than a high-impact plastic PR-24 "tonfa".

I kind of think that the increasing tactical fetishism of police is almost kind of a symptom as much as it is a cause of police violence. To a certain extent the increasing vilification of the police and the removal of intermediate force from their toolkit has increased their siege mentality, leading to a subverted kind of frustration that plays out in them getting soldiered up.

Don't get me wrong, I think there's a lot wrong with policing, but the wholesale denial going on in "the community" doesn't help either -- treating every police interaction as a wholesale denial of civil rights and refusing to acknowledge minority-on-minority criminality or treating it as some kind of excusable byproduct of discrimination only makes the situation worse.


Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

swb Has the trend away from blunt force led to this? (1001 comments)

As far as I know, the American police used to use a lot more blunt force -- flashlights, billy clubs, night sticks, beavertail saps, sap gloves -- to subdue people.

Over the past few decades, and especially since Rodney King's beating, blunt force seems to be off the menu. It has been somewhat replaced by the Taser, but their cost and the increasing awareness of the risk of death seems to have blunted (sorry) its use.

I wonder if the elimination of blunt force from the police toolkit has somehow led to a situation where "if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail" kind of a situation, where the police have come to see many situations that may have in the past been responded to with blunt force instead getting treated as a situation to shoot.

Physical confrontations without the use of an alternate weapon often boil down to wrestling matches which can quickly become a pulled gun or a struggle for an officer's gun, and many times a physical struggle is justified as a reason to shoot.

None of this to say that people weren't beaten for unjust reasons, but they also weren't killed, either.

When cops carried blunt force weapons they also knew how to use them in a way to inflict pain in a way that gained submission but also in a way that avoided major injury, since major injury didn't necessarily work in their favor. They seemed to have a spectrum of force available instead of a binary choice of shooting or not shooting.


Big IT Vendors Mostly Mum On Commercial Drone Plans

swb Re:Really? (21 comments)

The story almost reads like an Onion headline:

"Local bowling alleys and morturaries mostly mum on drone strategies"

Even for someone like Amazon, how likely is it they will be delivering via drone? Even if the FAA issued a greenlight for it tomorrow, how much could they actually deliver? Battery powered drones have extremely limited payloads and ranges and the existing physical delivery networks are huge and in place and relatively cheap compared to owning and maintaining a fleet of drones.

And why would Microsoft have a drone strategy? Windows on drones? Drones to comunicate with Azure? I just don't see it.


Judge Unseals 500+ Stingray Records

swb Can cell towers/protocols find & blacklist the (161 comments)

Is it possible for the existing cell network/protocols to identify "unknown" towers -- ie, those that appear in the spectrum but aren't known to be legitimate cell towers and somehow blacklist them to limit their functionality?

Do cell towers have a way of communicating to handsets which towers should be avoided or not used?

2 days ago

Doubling Saturated Fat In Diet Does Not Increase It In Blood

swb Gary Taubes spelled much of this out (249 comments)

...in "Good Calories, Bad Calories".

Some of it is historical -- prior to the Ancel Keys bad science about diet, it was a commonly held understanding that cutting carbohydrate consumption contributed to weight loss. Taubes cites numerous sources, some dating back hundreds of years. IIRC, even the science was trending this way before WWII but a lot of it was German-led science which the war lost and competitiveness from American scientists chose to bury.

The science behind insulin as the primary hormonal regulator of fat accumulation has been known since the 1960s.

Most troubling from Taubes' book is the weird politics of dietary science and how senior people who control funding for studies get wed to particular theories and hang on to them even when evidence doesn't support them, even suppressing promising science that tends to discredit these ideas.

2 days ago

Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer

swb Hail our new helium overlords (114 comments)

Is this project real, or just a sly attempt by Google to corner the market for helium?

3 days ago

Obama's Immigration Order To Give Tech Industry Some, Leave 'Em Wanting More

swb Re:I bet Infosys and Tata are dancing in the stree (185 comments)

I'm curious how more competition for entry-level or low skilled jobs helps African Americans. Their unemployment rate is nearly 14%, probably higher in lower age brackets. And given the school "achievement gaps" and lower education attainment for African Americans, these are precisely the jobs they need to work their way out of poverty.

Racism is a common argument for African American unemployment, but how does this stand up when the prime competitors for these jobs are non-white and in many cases marginal English speakers and functionally illiterate in English? Just who are these anti-African American, pro-Latino racists, anyway?

You could make the argument that African Americans don't get hired due to racist criminal justice policies which leave them with criminal records, but again I ask -- who are these people discriminating against African Americans with criminal records yet hiring illegal immigrants with false papers or whose "past" is essentially unavailable because their past is unobtainable in Mexico?

You could make an argument that African Americans don't want to or are incapable of work, but that argument is inherently racist. Their may be qualitative criticisms of entry level jobs (low pay, "jobs nobody wants") but if you buy that argument, then why do Latinos take those jobs? One variant explanation is that African Americans have some moral entitlement to better jobs (eg, due to past discrimination), but I'm not sure how that's supposed to work and the functional equivalent of this argument, affirmative action, hasn't worked and has been mostly discredited.

3 days ago

Swedish Court Refuses To Revoke Julian Assange's Arrest Warrant

swb Re:Rape Apologetics Go Here (242 comments)

IIRC, the rape setup was a squeeze play perpetrated by the maid and her accomplice. DSK was a habitue of sex clubs/prostitutes, making it seem not unlikely that his aristocratic privilege and sexual appetite would have led him to be vulnerable to that situation.

On top that, the idea of replacing the dollar with another currency was hardly some new idea, it's an idea that has floated around for a long time. It doesn't seem plausible that a conspiracy against one man would be enough to suppress this idea if it was actually a viable alternative. Euro market weakness and the risks of default in some Euro countries mostly rules out the Euro, the lack of Chinese transparency and currency manipulation rules out the Renminbi. Beyond those two alternatives, there aren't any global currencies with enough depth and market adoption able to replace the dollar.

Further, if dropping the dollar was a profitable idea, why wouldn't global markets just do it? I'm sure many countries would LOVE to stick it to Uncle Sam and our banks, but it seems like they like profitability even more.

4 days ago

CMI Director Alex King Talks About Rare Earth Supplies (Video 2)

swb Re:So what's the state of hybrid materials? (11 comments)

The way he described it, basically never. They play a key role in so many things that you basically kiss metals and oxides goodbye without them.

5 days ago

As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

swb Re:"Getting whiter" (495 comments)

You want a peaceful civilization? Encourage lots of different people to live next to each other.

Wow, I feel misinformed despite my NY Times subscription. You mean to tell me there's a war going on in 90+% white Scandinavia and I didn't know about it? Given how oppressive their governments are known to be and the complete absence of social welfare there, such barbarism I guess should be expected.

I'm especially glad to know that multiethnic regions like Africa and the Middle East are so peaceful and nonviolent, that must have been another article I missed out on.

5 days ago

As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

swb "Getting whiter" (495 comments)

Can someone explain to me how a city getting whiter is necessarily worse for the city?

Is there a specific race that is missing? If you made it 30% Chinese, 30% White and 30% Indian is that good enough, or do you need some minimal proportion of every race?

And is it really "race" we need -- ie, if we bulk up on suburbanized, native-born nonwhites (like Mindy Kaling or Aziz Ansari as an example) does that really count, or is what we're looking for some kind of non-white cultural influence, so non-whites who act white don't count?

Please, someone tell me what the ideal racial combination is.

5 days ago

Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

swb Re:Bad sign. (219 comments)

Solar only feels like half a solution without cheap, high capacity heavy-cycle batteries capable of running everything for several days with zero power input and providing boost power for when solar output lags.

I'm thinking like 120kWh for under $10k.

If there's some way to store enough potential solar energy you can generate then even something like 15w/sq ft ought to be adequate.

5 days ago

Martin Jetpack Closer To Takeoff In First Responder Applications

swb Of course cops want this (54 comments)

I am sure somewhere there is a Federal Law Enforcement agency that already has plans to buy about two dozen of these things and establish a jet pack SWAT team.

If its even halfway successful, expect every agency with a SWAT team to have one.

about a week ago

Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe

swb Re:Yawn ... (167 comments)

We can then put that money towards more developers (or better salaries for us current devs), as well as paying for training, nicer dev machines, etc. At the same time, if we do have a problem with any sort of hosted service through azure, support is literally a phone call away, and I can't remember the last time a resolution didn't happen within a couple hours.

Who's this we? Are you some kind of dev-only shop, self-managed?

I would bet that in most instances, the "savings" from moving to cloud never becomes more budget for the IT department, especially if its money for salaries. If anything it just cuts your budget or feeds some bonus pool for executives.

about a week ago

Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

swb Re: Solar power terminology (516 comments)

which in the case of the 85kwh Model S, would be enough to power me for 2 days.

I'd swear someone in my family has a secret pot farm hidden in my 2,000 sq ft house someplace because every time I see electricity usage on Slashdot I wonder where the hell all my power goes.

My bill for October (no heat, no AC usage) was for 987 kWh. Most of my lighting is CFL or LED (all of the lights that get used a lot are), my fridge is less than 5 years old and we use natural gas for cooking and heating. I do have about 4 PCs but two are diskless and one is off more than it is on.

A roughly 40kWh used Tesla battery would get me through a day but probably be most useful for runtimes of an hour before starting an external generator.

about a week ago

Launching 2015: a New Certificate Authority To Encrypt the Entire Web

swb Re:Won't existing CAs complain? (210 comments)

Yes they will. Just like cable companies, they will get the best laws that money can buy.

When I posted my original comment I didn't think of this, but it's not hard to CAs to start claiming they provide a beneficial security service by validating certificate buyers, helping to keep bad guys from running encrypted web sites to sell drugs, defile white women and support terrorism.

Maybe they will agree to some kind of "national security compromise" that enables regulation of CAs and their continued monopoly status, of course in exchange for giving the NSA backdoor access.

about a week ago

Launching 2015: a New Certificate Authority To Encrypt the Entire Web

swb Won't existing CAs complain? (210 comments)

Sure, they do business selling code-signing certs, wildcard and SAN certs but I have to believe that a not insignificant part of their business is selling boring, single-name certs for web servers.

If you can suddenly get SSL certs for your web server for free and have them work like a paid certificate (wide-spread browser and device support) won't a lot of people do just this?

Or will it be some kind of "we need support" thing where people keep buying them because of corporate policy and the "only" users will be hobbyists and tinkerers who had previously used self-signed certs or none at all?

about a week ago

NYC To Replace Most of Its Payphones With Free Gigabit WiFi In 2015

swb What about the Obamaphone? (106 comments)

Everybody in Cleveland has one.

about a week ago


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